A six-year-old boy had to eat cotton and his own faeces as he was left "home alone" many times in Harbin, the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, reported Kwong Wah Yit Poh.
Villagers said the boy, who is scrawny and could hardly stand, would be locked up and starved inside the house.
His father is mentally retarded and would be away from home, sometimes for days, while the boy's mother had left the village.
A female villager said she would send him food at times although the boy's father had declined help before.
She said the boy was once seen trying to eat his own faeces but was stopped before he put it into his mouth.
The authority has since treated the boy. They, however, cannot locate the parents.